Examining Africa Plus Partners’ 40,000 Bedspace Hostel Initiative for Students

Ikenna Nicholas Ukwa

it is an understatement to say that there is a huge gap in the provision of hostel accommodation to students in Nigeria’s higher institutions as most of them (for those who have at all) can hardly provide for more than 20 per cent of their students’ population.

And with the increasing number of students seeking admission into the country’s tertiary institutions, the situation has become dire even with depreciating funding for such institutions.

 With the gap estimated to be in excess of 80 per cent, this bold initiative by the Africa Plus Partners Nigeria Limited (APPNL), therefore represents a new horizon in efforts by both the private sector and the government to improve living and reading conditions for students in tertiary institutions across the country.

In a bold move to stem this embarrassing shortfall in the availability of standard accommodation for students in public universities nationwide, the federal government initiated several policies to devolve and share development activities with the private sector under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

One of such is the lease structure which forms the basis of the Federal Government National Student Housing Project. This laudable initiative, which aims at providing more than 38,000 bed space accommodation for students of tertiary institutions across the country became the concept for the partnership between APPNL and TETFUND.

 The first pilot phase of the project would involve the construction of 1,600 bed capacity hostels in 24 universities, polytechnics and Colleges of Education across the six geo-political zones of the country, with 800 bed capacity for males and 800 bed capacity for females. The hostels would further consist of 32 reading rooms, common rooms, cafeteria and restaurants, laundromat, 200 car parking space, grocery shops, salons with the rooms equipped with personal wardrobes, en suite bathroom, 24/7 site support, access control and 24-hour security and surveillance.

At the ground breaking of Africa Plus Partners’ 1,600 bed space hostel at the Akwa Ibom State University, Ikot Akpadem in Mkpat Enin Local Council, the federal government which lauded Africa Plus for the initiative said it had earmarked N98.2 billion as counterpart funding for the initiative.

Managing Director of Africa Plus Partners, Mr Adeniran Ajakaiye, in his introductory remark said the company initiated the project when it discovered that the gap in hostel accommodation in Nigeria had been in excess of 80 per cent.

This, Ajakaiye said constituted danger to the students because such conditions could not offer them adequate protection and a good reading and learning culture and environment.

 “And that is why we at Africa Plus Partners have carefully curated an accommodation scheme to cater to approximately 40,000 students in tertiary institutions across the country and this is in tandem with our desire to enable students focus on reading rather than living,” the MD explained.

Managing Director of Family Homes Fund, Abdul Mukhtar, while giving an overview of the project said he felt fulfilled and expressed joy that the University would be the first state owned institution to benefit from the initiative.

The federal government under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu and the guidance of Edun according to him, was fostering a transformative Students Housing Programme across the nation with the first phase projected to deliver 38,400 bedspaces in 24 tertiary institutions across Nigeria.

The government’s contribution is championed by Family Homes Funds Limited (FHFL). FHFL is a housing development initiative focused on providing affordable homes for Nigerians on low to middle income.

With over 15,000 houses across Nigeria, FHFL is promoted by the government as part of its Social Intervention Programme employing innovation and strong partnership in addressing the housing challenges in Nigeria and creating over 84,000 direct and indirect jobs and stimulating the local economy in the process.

APPNL, the main financier of the initiative is a SEC- licenced specialist asset management company focused on infrastructure fund management in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa.

It currently manages Nigeria’s first equity-based Naira denominated infrastructure fund-the Africa Infra Plus Fund (AIPF I).

APPNL obtained approval from SEC for a total programme size of N200 billion for its second Fund, AIPF II. Having completed Series I of AIPF II, the total funding capacity of AAPNL currently is more than N400 billion. AAPNL strives to harness resources at its disposal to unlock tremendous opportunities and leverage its structuring capabilities to maximise profitability, enhance its investors’ wealth and value of its managed funds whilst ensuring sustainable social development and preservation of the environment.

 APPNL through the Triple A Consortium (which includes ARC and Afrinvest), was appointed as one of four independent asset managers for the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria Limited (InfraCorp), a world class infrastructure development vehicle set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria in conjunction with the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority to catalyse and accelerate investment into Nigeria’s infrastructure sector via the creation of a N15 trillion Infrastructure Fund.

Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy Mr. Wale Edun, who was represented by his Permanent Secretary Mr. Udo Ekanem, at the occasion, said the project was aimed at tackling deficit in hostel accommodation for students in order to improve reading and learning culture amongst them.

The Minister who commended Governor Umo Eno for his commitment to educational advancement in the state and lauded the partnership between Africa Plus Partners and TETFUND that has led to the initiative and also appealed for support for President Bola Tinubu in his quest to lay a strong foundation for the development of Nigeria especially in education by helping students to grow in innovation and creativity.

In a remark at the occasion, Executive Secretary of TETFUND, Sonny Echono, said the Fund would spend N72 billion for the building of modern hostels in tertiary institutions across the country in the next two years and applauded its partners in the project, Africa Plus Partners and Family Home Funds for their commitment and drive towards providing conducive residence for undergraduates to boost innovative learning and research.

Echono, commended successive Governors of the State for effective partnership with the federal government and promised that more of such projects would be done in the institution as part of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu, further explaining that the Fund would intervene in 36 hostels in higher institutions in Nigeria this year with N24 billion and would double the funding next year, providing N1 billion for those involving Public Private Partnership (PPP), collaborations and N0.5 billion for those without PPP.

For the AKSU project, the Executive Secretary said the Fund would contribute N1 billion while Africa Plus Partners would provide the main funding to the tune of N4 billion.

Also in a remark, Governor Eno, who was represented by the Education Commissioner, Mrs. Idongesit Etiebet, commended initiators of the hostel project for their efforts meant to boost learning environment for students maintaining that the measure of growth of any society is represented by investment in education said the state government has continued to pay deep attention especially to education at the foundation level to enable students develop their potentials early enough.

The State government, Eno stressed has been working on meeting challenges of state-owned higher institutions by making investments in infrastructure and paying bursary to indigenous students in all public tertiary institutions across the country while education has continued to enjoy critical recognition in his administration’s ARISE Agenda.

“We highly commend this well thought-out initiative of the construction of the 1600 capacity Private Partnership Project Student Hostel, which will reduce significantly the accommodation challenges for students,” he added.

Vice Chancellor of Akwa Ibom State University, Prof. Nse Essien, in his speech regretted that lack of suitable accommodation had affected the living conditions of students, posed a security threat to them while candidates have continued to prefer other institutions that provide accommodation as their first choice, denying the school the opportunity to admit students to fill their carrying capacity.

According to him, “Over the years, the lack of suitable accommodation has been quite challenging for our students. It has affected their living conditions and sometimes has posed security threat to them.

“We have been faced with situations where students prefer other institutions that provide accommodation as their first choice thereby denying us the opportunity to admit students to fill our carrying capacity.

“This challenge has also given competing institutions an edge over us irrespective of the fact that our academic standards and facilities are one of the best in Nigeria.”

He hailed the partnership between TETFUND and APPNL to construct two blocks of hostels that would house 800 students each amounting to 1600 bed space, saying it would help to foster a stronger sense of community and belonging among students and also create opportunities that would be beneficial to the host community.

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